Archive for October, 2011

After discovering yesterday morning that our garage door was one of the many hit in the neighborhood as part of Wednesday night’s tagging attack, I was successful in removing the smaller black tag with a bottle of graffiti remover we had, but the larger and infinitely more retarded silver tag wasn’t going to surrender so easily. So I went online to the City of Los Angeles Graffiti Abatement Program webpage and put in a request to have it painted out, and I spent the day fuming and repeatedly coming down and staring at it and hating it until I couldn’t take it anymore and grabbed that previously mentioned bottle of remover and a sturdier brush and scrub attacked it into a really oblivious craptastic mess, like so:

A neighbor chanced by while I was vicariously getting my aggressions out on whatever jackasses did this and he offered up the good and practical advice of using lacquer thinner to much greater and cleaner effect. But I explained to him that my point was driven far more viscerally than practically. That my aim wasn’t to remove the offending script entirely. At least not yet.

“I would rather it be my mess for the neighborhood to see, not theirs,” I said.

The neighbor nodded, probably not getting my point, which was to symbolically rub their noses in it. Before getting it permanently erased I wanted to render the barely readable scrawl completely illegible. To deface the defacement. To vandalize the vandalism. To slag the tag so that when the night-sneaking jackweasels slink by (and you know they will) to “admire” their handiwork, they’ll find this resident refused to let it stand untouched even a day. They’ll find their filth filthed. Rendered moot. Void. They’ll find I took their garbage and made it my own.



I have two face-palming habits as a greenthumber. One: I will pretty much plunk any bit of severed succulent into a patch of dirt to see if it’ll grow (and most of the time, it will). And two: I will plant found seeds in pots in no organized manner and without making any record.

Illustrating both those bad behaviors is the above image in which something has successfully sprouted in the center of a circle of six recently amputated leaves from an unknown succulent who took an unfortunate tumble. I call the separated sextuplet Cactushenge because I’m a geek.

So far there’s been little movement among them but the surprising seedling that’s come up is most likely from any of several black walnut seeds from a neighbor’s tree that were dropped in our yard this summer by squirrels in transit. I’ve long wanted to grow a black walnut from seed because it is endemic to our state — Juglans californica, baby!

But! I’m pretty sure I dumped a couple other species of seeds into this pot — and others. So I can’t fully be sure what I’ve got, other than an obligatory desire to modify Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge!”

Cactushenge! Where the demons dwell
Where the banshees live and they do live well
Cactushenge! Where a man’s a man
And the children dance to the Pipes of Pan.

I’ll stop now.

Wow. This morning was a double whammy full of assholes. At 5:20 a.m., Ranger started barking her “this is for real” bark and sure enough after bolting from bed and looking out the bedroom window there was a shady looking creep casually walking the brick walk on the north side of the house like he owned the place.

I got dressed and downstairs and out to the street in time to find the prowler — who turned out to be our block’s most notorious nuisance transient — coming back onto the sidewalk from a house a few doors south of ours. He wore a blue hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head. Of all things he had a golfbag handcart and was carrying an arm full of magazines.

When he saw me approaching he commenced walking away  but I caught up close enough to inquire how it was that he came to be pushing a bagless cart down the street at such an odd hour. “Bought it,” he responded without breaking stride. I let it be known I didn’t believe him, then I advised as we arrived at the cross street that parasites such as himself are not wanted on this block, and that it would extra-especially be in his worst interest either to be found by me setting foot on my property or anywhere near it for that matter.

“In case you don’t remember which house was mine that you cased, it’s the one overly decorated for Halloween,” I said. “Should you decide to come back. I’ll be waiting.”

He grunted, and I apologized that I couldn’t stay and chat longer but I had to go call the police on his thieving ass.

“Go ahead,” he said, as if I needed his permission.

It was in walking back home that I noticed the graffiti tags, freshly sprayed in silver and black paint sometime in the evening on garage doors and walls along the west side of the block, including mine:

Since it didn’t look like any of the local gang tags I’m only all too familiar with (and since our block is rarely hit and never so heavily), my first hunch was it was done by the prowler who really is a multi-tASSker who counts theft, squatting, harrassment and arson among his suspected crimes. But after notifying the police I attempted to erase it with some graffiti remover and elbow grease (the smaller black one came off quick, but the larger silver one didn’t). While down there scrubbing a car pulled up and the guy inside said he lived down the block and was trying to see the extent of the vandalism.

The reason being he had just rented out an apartment to a single mom with two teens who regularly had classmates over, and coincidentally some silver spray paint he had stored in his yard had been stolen.


A short spell of light rain yesterday was enough to disturb a subterranean termite nest on our property and bring its population to the surface (click image for the bigger picture):

To the uninitiated, it can be a bit disconcerting to see a termite swarm suddenly flying about or moving along the ground seemingly from out of nowhere, but winged groups such as this that emerge from beneath the soil — while indicative of a colony’s presence — are relatively harmless, usually dying before getting the chance to do any damage. Should a swarm such as this materialize directly from a structure, it’s probably best to get inspected.

One creature who loves when termites swarm after a fall rain is the orb weaver spider — such as the one in the following video (and the subject of yesterday’s post). It enjoyed a lunchtime snack of several haphazardly flying termites who had the misfortune of getting caught in its web by our side door while I stood nearby with my camera. Arachnophobes should avoid the ensuing clip, especially not in all its 1080p full-screen HD glory:

One of the gourds Susan brought home from the store this past weekend had a nick in it, and sure enough, by this morning that superficial cut had turned into a super squishy infection, requiring immediate and major surgery if there was to be any chance of it taking its place on the front steps as any sort of jack o’ lantern.



I don’t get all into carving pumpkins until no sooner than a day or two before the big nigh, so honestly, after the nasty section was removed I wasn’t really in the mood to cut something creative on the pumpkin’s other side, so I improvised with a little plastic pumpkin we have laying around, which fit perfectly and grumpily inside the patient:

Bonus image: here’s where the spookifications of the frontyard presently stand (click to monsterificate):

Other than a few decorative bits and pieces, the main thing left really is the electronic stuff… fog machines, sound equipment, strobes.

A few days ago, in reaching up to pull down some low hanging dead branches of a backyard tree, this marvelous thing came with them (click it for the bigger picture):

Camouflaged, I hadn’t known it existed just above my head — and by the looks of it probably for a long time, too. It also looks like it hadn’t been used in a while. It is about eight inches in diameter. It is beautifully constructed.

Careful I was in parting it from the boughs that held it for however long. And I set it upon the patio table, where I showed it to Susan. I’ve marveled at it several times since. And wondered how many chicks might have successfully flown from it  over however many years it had been in service.

I brought it in today to photograph it, and I’ve decided to keep it on my desk for the time being. For inspiration. I find myself of late questioning myself  across a pretty broad spectrum. It can be disheartening. I am trying to accomplish things, but frankly haven’t. Thus there a lot of things I’m doubting right now. But one thing I can safely — and without regret or recrimination — say that I could never do is build such a masterpiece using just my feet and my mouth.

The birds who built this had none of those doubts. They just did it. Because no one told them they couldn’t. Especially themselves.

Two things you can count on angelenos to bitch and moan about: rain and traffic.

Orb weaver doesn’t give a shit. Orb weaver’s bad ass. Rain? Feh. Traffic? Go ride a bike, says Orb weaver.

The President of the United States is in town and it’s all about the gridlock everyone gets stuck in. Boo. Hoo. I swear, Khaddafi could’ve been found living the low life in some City Hall sub-basement and the top story would be how much worse the traffic is in and out of the Civic Center because of the ensuing lockdown.